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Barn Notes: Thursday, January 30

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Larry Jones Taking Lost Training Days in Stride; Ria Antonia on Ever-Tightening Schedule for Either 'Rachel' or 'Risen'; Fair Grounds Jockey, Trainer Standings at Half-Way Mark of FG Season

NEW ORLEANS (Thursday, January 30, 2014) –As of Thursday morning, with Brereton Jones’s sophomore duo of Albano and Divine Beauty just 24 days away from their next assignments on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 22, trainer Larry Jones was taking the three lost days of training at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in his typical easygoing style.

“We’re all good,” said Jones speaking outside his tack room as bright, sunny weather began to warm the three straight nights of hard freezes in New Orleans.  “Those big races (the Grade II Risen Star for Albano and the Grade III Rachel Alexandra for Divine Beauty) are still so far away that we’ll be all right with those two horses.

“In this business you have to learn to compensate,” Jones said.  “Everybody is in the same boat.  It’s the horses I have in this week that I’m a little worried about.  I don’t want them getting over there (to the starting gate) and acting all crazy.  Those are the kinds of horses I’ll have to keep an eye on.  But for those big races coming up we should be okay.”

Jones also has Brereton Jones’s Same Cross entered for Saturday’s $60,000 Happy Ticket Stakes as one of two stakes scheduled for the day, but Same Cross worked Monday morning before the hard freeze set in, accomplishing five furlongs in 1:01.20 in preparation for Saturday’s six-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares.

Also getting works in Monday morning were several horses from trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn, including Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Gold Hawk, who breezed a half-mile in 50.20 in advance of the $400,000 Risen Star.

Other Asmussen trainees on the Monday tab were Zayat Stables’ Prayer for Relief who went a half in 51.40 in preparation for the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap on Louisiana Derby Preview Day and Cathy and Bob Zollars’ Daddy Nose Best who got four furlongs in 51.60 in advance of a possible appearance in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap over the Stall-Wilson turf course on that same gala afternoon of racing.

The Asmussen-trained Tapiture, owned by Ron Winchell and winner of Churchill’s Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at last asking on Nov. 30, went six furlongs over the sloppy Fair Grounds main track in 1:13 flat Monday.

RIA ANTONIA ON EVER-TIGHTENING SCHEDULE FOR EITHER ‘RACHEL’ OR ‘RISEN’—Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia, adjudged winner of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her last start Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, shipped into Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Jan. 11 with a campaign designed to lead up to a start against male rivals in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.

A start against fillies in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes, also to be contested on that same afternoon of Feb. 22, is increasingly being considered by her connections in lieu of the Risen Star, but as of Thursday morning Ron Paolucci, owner of Loooch Racing and manager of Ria Antonia’s career, was uncertain exactly what the future is for the daughter of Rockport Harbor.

“The weather down there is really putting a damper on our plans,” said Paolucci.  “We were on a tight schedule anyway, and when they closed the track for training again this morning for a third day we’re even on a tighter schedule now.

“I realize we can’t help what Mother Nature does, but we originally had her scheduled for six breezes before her next race on a Saturday-to-Saturday schedule, then it was five and now we might be down to four,” Paolucci said.  “It would cost me a lot of money to ship my filly somewhere else, but I can’t hurt my filly if she’s not ready in time.  Our plans for her now have become more uncertain.  We’ll just have to see how she does on a day-to-day basis – at least for the next few days.”

FAIR GROUNDS JOCKEY, TRAINER STANDINGS AT HALF-WAY MARK OF FG SEASON —At the conclusion of last Sunday’s races – 42nd day of the 2013-2014 thoroughbred season in New Orleans – the half-way mark of the 84-day meeting at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots became official.

Both the jockey and trainer standings at the Crescent City oval remained competitive.

Three-time defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik had ridden 61 winners – four more than runner-up James Graham.  Richard Eramia was alone in the third position with 42 winners and Leandro Goncalves and Shaun Bridgmohan were tied for fourth with 23 trips to the winner’s circle apiece.

In the trainers’ race, 13-time trainer champion Steve Asmussen was beginning to draw away from rivals with 28 wins, while in the second spot was 10-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss with 20 wins.  Asmussen and Amoss shared the top local honors last season.

One behind Amoss in the third position was Bret Calhoun with 19 wins while Wes Hawley held the fourth position with 14.

Larry Jones, Mike Stidham, Ron Faucheux and Keith Desormeaux were tied for the fifth spot with 13 wins apiece.